Getting to know Grosvenor

Our Building Services Manager, Arthur Arvanitis, answers some questions to give some insight to Grosvenor Place and the changes he’s witnessed during his 30 years working in the building. 

When did you start working at Grosvenor Place and what was your role at that time?

In January 1990, I received a call from the then Grosvenor Place Manager telling me that they’ve heard that the firm I was working with had gone into receivership and it was about time for me to come across and work with the Grosvenor Place team.

I had been involved with Grosvenor Place since 1985, during the construction phase, and was instrumental in the installation of the thermal storage air conditioning plant and setting up the mechanical maintenance schedules, so I had a bit of knowledge about the building. It was the next natural step in my career. 

My role was to oversee and supervise all types of mechanical, hydraulic, electrical, fire and security.  Basically, everything to do with base building services infrastructure.

What was your first impression of Grosvenor Place?

The sheer scale of the site blew me away, huge! It reminded me of an industrial site.

At the time, Grosvenor Place was a kind of test lab for a lot of new technology and strategies including a unique mechanical plant, electrical infrastructure and Building Management System (BMS). As some of these technologies had never been implemented before there was a lot of underperformance or systems not being used as intended and that had caused a lot of friction among the team and contractors. It was frustrating at times, trying to get all the systems online so I guess you could say my first impression of the site was a huge headache! 

Grosvenor Place has changed a lot since 1990, what are some remarkable milestones that you’ve witnessed? 

We created a strong team and by 1995 we had just about everything operating. In the following years, we have fine-tuned the building to ensure all the systems are performing how they should be. 

One of the greatest challenges has been working to reduce the annual energy consumption from 15GWha PA to today’s consumption of around 8GWh PA. We worked hard to achieve a 4.5 star NABERS energy rating, no easy feat from a starting point of 2.5 stars. 

I’ve witnessed many changes in the technological area -my first PC was a 286 running on DOS and Lotus was the programme of the day! We survived  Y2K “D day” in the year 2000. Our team all came to the site on New Year’s Eve and waited for the technology shutdown at midnight.  It never came, but the pizza was terrific!

I have witnessed the birth of Earth Hour, Vivid, the re-development of the Royal Naval House, the creation of the main lobby, end of trip facilities and the Piazza.

Tell us something that we may not know about this building. 

The main lobby air conditioning is unique “air stratification”. We Air-condition the space with 100% fresh outside air, cooling/ heating the air 3 meters from the ground and warm air continues to lift to the top of the main lobby 15 meters high ceilings from there it gets directed into pipe shaft raiser and finds its way out of the building on level 45 (roof). coupled with underfloor Pipes, heating/cooling (Rehau system) creating a comfortable environment all year round within such a huge area.

What is something we may not know about you. 

I used to have a reputation of being a sharpshooter on the Basketball court.

What do you love about Grosvenor Place?

I love the atmosphere of the building, full of people doing their thing, especially the upper lobby with its glass roof and bamboo planter on a wet rainy day.

The location of the building in the CBD is pretty special as well, always plenty of lunch options. Most of all I enjoy working with team past and present who are always striving to add value.

Did you know that you would be working here for so long? 

No, I never thought I would! Time ticked by very quickly – I’ve been too busy getting on with things, always looking to what’s next on the agenda than counting the years.

I’ve been lucky to have met like-minded colleagues passionate about keeping Grosvenor Place services the best that they can be.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Grosvenor Place is a 24/7 serviced building so on a typical morning I need to catch up with what happened out of office hours, then I have a daily schedule of tasks with contractors and colleagues. I respond to any unforeseen engineering failures and go through a few cups of coffee.

When things get overwhelming at work, how do you unwind?

The location of the building is the gate to the most amazing jogging tracks. My favourite is jogging across the Harbour Bridge, a walk to Observatory Hill and the occasional run up the stairs… but country road cycling is the best!